reflectionOn Reflection

"We don't learn from thinking.  we learn from thinking about thinking."  Mark Twain

In the early days of my career, I fanagled a four day work schedule---unheard of back then.  With that precious day off my intent was to capture quality and quantity time with my childrenWe left no stones unturned for fun and the kids went gratefully down for their naps in the afternoon.

That quiet time I used for slicking up the house.  What I discovered was that the time I spent on the end of my vacuum was the most powerful time of my professional work week!  Turn on that vac and I was in deep thought heaven.  There was something about the space, the free time, the hum of the machine, the vibration in my arm, and my movement around the room that unleashed my ability to delve into thought patterns unavailable to me in the workplace.  I could think about what was happening in my practice, consider what I was observing in the practice of others, and analyze and integrate them.  I could examine the meaning of what we were doing, and conjure up wild-haired ideas without risk.  This break in the action "from" work gave me the gift of reflection and ended up producing some of my best professional work.

vacuumingYou have heard  the old adage, "When we use a strength to excess, it becomes a weakness."  We are a nation of do-ers.  We gauge our success by the check marks on our to-do list and by quantifiable results, as opposed to how meaningful, purposeful, or valuable our work actually is.  Reflection provides the time and intent to "stay on track" with our vision---to understand what we are doing and why, and to grow.  According to David Stein, "Reflection's appeal lies in... intellectual growth and improvement in one's ability to see the need for and effect personal and system change.  Reflection can be a learning tool for directing and informing practice, choosing among alternatives in a practice setting, or transforming and reconstructing the social enviornment."

Maybe that is why the vacuum cleaner company is called, "Eureka."

For a guide to crafting your own reflection practice read the attachment from Harvard Business Review's Blog Network:


Questions to Consider:

  • What is the value of reflection to you as a leader?
  • Why don't we engage in reflection as a matter of course?
  • How might it be possible to incorporate reflection into our individual and team practices?'

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